Friday, April 28, 2006

Trampoline Simon

Also seen at the Maker Faire: a project to play Simon by jumping on mini-trampolines. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to try it - by the time I noticed this one the faire was winding down. But it looked like fun. And a heckuva lot cheaper to construct and store than, say, a VirtuSphere.

Trampoline Simon video (youtube)

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Playdocam: Webcam Games in Your Browser

Got a webcam? Got Flash installed? A technology demo called Playdocam lets you play pong or basketball on your Mac or PC without installing any new software by the interface mechanism of waving your hands in the air. It's not terribly aerobic -- no substitute for Eyetoy:Kinetic -- but hey, you can't beat the price or convenience.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Build Your Own Video Game Exerciser!

Suppose you already have an exercise bike and would like to use it as a PS2 controller to play racing games. One option is do it yourself: get the parts from Radio Shack and build a small circuit board that connects the components.

That was Bill Pfeil's project at the Maker Faire in San Mateo last week, and it worked quite well. I got to see a standard recumbent exercise bike being used to play Crazy Taxi. Bill writes:
Build your own exercise fitness bike video game controller for less than $20 in electronics! All parts are available from your local RadioShack(tm).

Here is what you should already have: A PlayStation 2, a Pelican TT Cobra racing wheel for PS2 (around $20 at Fry's Electronics), and an exercise bike (or other fitness equipment). The exercise bike needs to have a speed/distance monitor. If it has this monitor, it should have the motion sensor we need already built in.

Full details, including a larger circuit diagram, are here. Good luck!

UPDATE: in the comments, Kevin notes that GameCycles (which usually has an ad on this page - go click it, you know you want to...) sells a prebuilt solution to the same problem. The NeoRacer PS1/PS2 Game Controller sells fully assembled (apart from providing the input source) for $35. For those who don't want to assemble their own circuit board.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Shangri-La Diet - Lose Weight Without Hunger While Eating Whatever You Want

The rules are:
  1. Consume 100-400 calories of sugar water and/or flavorless edible oil daily.
  2. Consume the sugar water and/or oil before or well after meals - at least an hour away.
Strangely enough, this dramatically reduces hunger, making it easy to lose weight. Under the influence of this regime, you are less hungry, you think about food less often, and when do eat you feel full faster. So it's easy to eat less and even skip meals now and then.

Seth Roberts is the inventor of this diet, which he describes in a just-released book called The Shangri-La Diet (amazon link). I received an advance copy of the book.

Does the diet work? Yes. As far as I can tell, it works just as advertised. And the book has all the specific instructions, tips, caveats, explanations, and related ideas you might need to try it out for yourself.

I'm still not sure I believe Seth's explanation for why it works, but that it does work is clear.

What's the rationale? Seth thinks of hunger as an addiction mechanism - a Pavlovian response to the connection between taste and calories. According to Seth, the most fattening foods have these characteristics:
  1. a strong taste
  2. quickly accessible calories
  3. consistent taste - the same every time
  4. familiarity - you've had it many times
Foods that satisfy all those criteria are fattening, not merely because they have calories but because they reinforce the addiction - you eat, are satisfied, and are prone to repeat the experience.

According to the theory, foods with weak or no taste fail to reinforce your tendency to get hungry and thereby lower your set-point so you can get thin.

So lately I've been taking about 300 calories of sugar water (20 sugar cubes dissolved in a liter of water) daily and an occasional tablespoon of extra-light olive oil at bedtime. This makes it easy to reduce snacking and eat smaller and/or fewer meals. Augmenting "less food" with my usual videogame exercise regime (In The Groove is my main exercise this week), I have been steadily losing weight and reducing my bodyfat percentage.

If you're having trouble losing weight, I highly recommend getting the book and trying it out. I am a satisfied customer.

Shangri-La Diet (amazon)

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Welcome, North Carolinians!

North Carolina's News & Observer (serving "Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill") just reprinted the New York Times article on virtual trainers. My picture was even more prominently featured, which I have mixed feelings about...

Article: Trainer Never Sweats

Any other sightings?

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